Scientists reveal first image ever made of a black hole

A NASA artist's concept illustration shows a supermassive black hole with millions to billions times the mass of our sun

Much as a black hole's gravitational pull sucks in everything nearby, in the animation, the "Google" letters are stretched thin and then swallowed by the inexorable tug of a black hole positioned at the center.

The "monster" black hole measures 40 billion kilometers (~25 billion miles) across - that's almost 29,000 Suns - and is located 500 million trillion kilometers (~311 million trillion miles) away at the heart of the Messier 87 galaxy, a massive galaxy in the "nearby" Virgo galaxy cluster.

Another Russian scientist, Alexander Lutovinov, a deputy head of the Russian Space Research Institute, said the Event Horizon Telescope project proved that our concept of how the Universe works was correct. But creating an image of the black hole required a telescope quite a bit larger. The outside rim, or better known as the "event horizon" is a mixture of radiation, dust particles and gases, all of which are stuck in the huge gravitational pull of the black hole and are rotating in a clockwise fashion.

The black hole is about 6 billion times the mass of our sun and is in a galaxy called M87.

"Here it is", Sheperd Doeleman, a Harvard astronomer and project director of the EHT, said as he revealed the image at the Washington briefing. "We're seeing the unseeable".

The picture was made with equipment that detects wavelengths invisible to the human eye, so astronomers added color to convey the ferocious heat of the gas and dust, glowing at a temperature of perhaps millions of degrees.

Black holes were first predicted to exist by Einstein's Theory of Relativity. But when it's feeding, it was theorized that the superheated gasses swirling toward the object's event horizon would be visible to a powerful telescope.

Black holes are formed when huge stars collapse at the end of their life cycle, but because they do not allow light to escape, it can be hard to see them.

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Scientists have lifted the veil on the first images ever captured of a black hole's event horizon.

No one knew what a black hole looked like before today.

"The size and shape of the shadow matches the precise predictions of Einstein's general theory of relativity, increasing our confidence in this century-old theory", Psaltis said. The scientists had only 10 days to look and got four ideal weather days, three of them at the start.

Markoff said the team has not started a full analysis of the image and that it will help researchers create models to understand what exactly happens around black holes.

UM Faculty of Science Department of Physics Radio Cosmology Laboratory head and investigator Dr Zamri Zainal Abidin said this would definitely boost the role of Malaysian astronomy. "It is just a fundamental statement about nature".

"Obtaining an image of a black hole is not as easy as snapping a photo with an ordinary camera", the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, a US research center, wrote on its website.

When scientists initially put all that data into the first picture, what they saw looked so much like what they expected they didn't believe it at first.

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